Upstart Dane prevails at WPT Spain event

Casper Hansen
Casper "The Poker Ghost" Hansen

After wading through a 253-person field filled with some of the world's finest poker pros, Denmark's Casper Hansen (no relation to Gus) spooked Stefan Mattsson in heads-up play at the WPT Spanish Championship and captured the tour's first crown of the year.

In the final hand of the €5,300 event at the Casino Barcelona, Hansen went all-in with the chip lead holding A 2 after Mattsson's $205,000 raise from the big blind.

Mattsson called holding A 9 and showed an early advantage before the flop came 5 5 2, giving the Dane two pair. A J and a K came on the turn and river respectively, sealing the hand and the title for Hansen.

The $655,720 win is the biggest to date in Hansen's playing career, with his largest previous listed cash coming in the 2007 European Poker Tour Dublin event after he gained entry to the tournament via satellite from PokerStars.

"I like to play relaxed, a bit sloppy, like I can barely count to 10," says the newest WPT champ of his style. He'll have to count a lot higher than that to tally the cash from his win over the better-known Mattsson.

Mattsson himself came into the last day of play holding a significant chip lead over the rest of the final table. He could not, however, close the deal.

In one of the tournament's defining moments, Hansen doubled up through the chip leader when they both went all-in, Mattsson holding A 4 and Hansen with A 8. The board came Q 8 3 J 5 to give Hansen a pair of eights and, more importantly, to close the gap on the tournament leader.

Hansen took the chip lead for good just seven hands later, setting the stage for the win.

Although Mattsson must have been disappointed to let his initial lead slip, his second-place finish will surely be a boost as he heads to the World Series of Poker, where he's finished in the Main Event money two years running.

In 2006 the Swedish player, who represents the PurpleLounge Poker, was 57th for $123,699. Last year he was 22nd for $333,490. He picked up a cool $346,621 as the runner-up in the WPT Spanish Championship.

Other players of note in the tournament included Juha Helppi, Carlos Mortensen, Annette "Annette_15" Obrestad, Antonio Esfandiari and Patrik Antonius.

On one very interesting table Antonius and Obrestad were seated next to each other and collided on several occasions.

The biggest confrontation between the two occurred when Antonius raised from the cut-off and Obrestad reraised from the button. Antonius reraised again and Obrestad folded, leaving her around $52,000 in chips and increasing Antonius's stack to about $72,500.

Obrestad, best known for her online play and first-place finish in the inaugural World Series of Poker Europe Main Event, would be eliminated shortly after the table broke. However, Antonius continued to run well and found himself well positioned heading into Day 3, ranked 15th of 28 with $118,500 in chips.

It was not to be for the Finnish phenom, however. Antonius was crippled early in the day by Jean-Pierre Gleize after he moved all-in holding A 4 against Gleize's K Q.

The board came Q T 4 T 3, giving Gleize two pair and leaving Antonius with just $6,000 in chips. He would be eliminated in 22nd place and pocket a modest (by his standards anyway) $11,817 shortly thereafter.

One pro who would not fare so well, however, was Esfandiari, despite his early excitement over the event.

"Since the moment I left Barcelona two years ago, I have waited for the opportunity to return," said Esfandiari. "It is such a beautiful city with incredible history - you couldn't ask for a better backdrop for an international WPT tournament."

That excitement was short-lived for "The Magician." Playing short-stacked at the beginning of Day 2, he finally started to run well, nearly tripling what he'd started the session with, before busting out.

"It's a little depressing but it's not so bad because I was short-stacked. I started the day with $5,000. I got it up to about $15,000 and felt pretty good," said Esfandiari. "Then I lost a flip and that was that."

Never one to stay down in the dumps too long, Esfandiari seemed to have sorted a remedy for himself just minutes after his defeat.

"[I figured] I've got nothing to do, I am in Barcelona. I think I am going to head up to town, eat lots of good seafood, drink lots of Jack Daniels and hang out with Carlos Mortensen, because he's the best that ever lived."

Mortensen also busted out early.

The full results from the final table were as follows:

Casper Hansen
Stefan Mattsson
Thiago Nishijima
Andres Vidal
Guy Sitbon
Martin Lundenius
Erik Friberg
Atanus Gueorguiev
Nordine Bouya

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